MR. PIKE PEASE
I beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the £44,288 given in Return No. 155, just issued, is the total sum employed by the Treasury for the purchase of 2½ per cent. Consolidated Stock in the past financial year; and, if so, why a larger proportion of the sum available for the cancellation of the National Debt was not devoted to the purchase of this class of stock.
§ MR. RUNCIMAN
The sum of £44,288 given in the Return was the total sum applied out of the old and new Sinking Fund moneys to the cancellation of Consols in the last financial year. In the circumstances of the time, it was considered preferable to apply these funds mainly to the extinction of Unfunded Debt. Accordingly, Treasury Bills to the amount of £3,500,000 were paid off, and Exchequer Bonds to the amount of over £4,400,000 were bought and cancelled, in addition to the £1,000,000 of Exchequer Bonds drawn and redeemed under the scheme inaugurated by the right hon. Member for East Worcestershire. There were, however, 1596 other funds available for the reduction of Funded Debt during the year besides the old and new Sinking Funds, namely, the receipts in respect of Life Annuities, Redemption of Land Tax, the China Indemnity, and other miscellaneous items. Consols were cancelled with these receipts to the amount of £1,819,258, making the total reduction in the amount of Consols outstanding £1,871,165.